Airplanes have made it possible to reach places thousands of kilometers away very quickly, but more and more people are realizing that this means an important part of travel gets lost.
By covering long distances on foot, on a bike or on a cargo ship, you get more of an authentic feeling about the travel experience.
Not traveling by plane is also better for the environment – although you will certainly need a lot more time. Let's take a closer look at the alternatives:
“At the start, I was overwhelmed by how long the path was,” Rebecca Maria Salentin said. She walked the 2,700-kilometer (1,677-mile) mountain trail of friendship from Eisenach in Germany to Budapest, Hungary.
"It was hard. If you're on foot the entire time, you can't skip boring or rainy passages.
"You can't walk away from your own doubts and fears," the long-distance hiker said. "Instead, you notice the beautiful things along the way. I realized I'm much stronger than I thought. After about three weeks on your feet, you have thought through everything that had been bothering you. You find an inner balance."
Her personal highlight wasn't just the people she met along the way, but also the friends who supported her and accompanied her at certain points. She named her book about long-distance hiking after this club of friendship: "Club Druzhba."
For David Kossmann from the Pressedienst-Fahrrad news service agency, traveling without a plane is about taking responsibility. “The ecological footprint of flying is huge,” he said.
Kossmann sees bike travel as an excellent alternative, a harmonious way of getting around. "Many find cycling to be exactly the right speed for the soul." In addition, you get to know people in a different way. "Many people see you traveling with little luggage and want to offer their support."
Kossmann recommends that anyone traveling with others should clearly agree on their expectations and priorities beforehand. How much distance can and does the group want to cover in one day?
Leonore Sibeth and Sebastian Ohlert have covered 97,000 kilometers in 34 months without flying once. They have a blog describing how they traveled from Germany to Mexico in the first 24 months. On the east coast of China, the question arose: Should we cross the Pacific or head back home?
Sibeth and Ohlert decided to go to America. They bought tickets months in advance for a cargo ship to Mexico and traveled 13,500 kilometers across the Pacific in 18 days. "There are travel agencies online that specialize in these trips or you can contact the shipping companies directly," Sibeth explained.
The pair barely suffered from seasickness: due to its size, the ship was pretty quiet most of the time. More strenuous were the time changes, with Sibeth and Ohlert reaching a new time zone every two days. Boredom did not set in: "We were always allowed up onto the bridge, where we were able to observe animals and even got a tour of the engine room once in a while," Sibeth said.
For Stephanie Forsch, traveling by train is a chance to sit back and relax. Looking out of the window for hours, chasing your thoughts and having a walk around and stopping by the onboard bistro: "It means I arrive at my destination relaxed and feeling zen," said Forsch, who gives tips on her blog about rail travel in Europe.
For the most relaxed travel experience possible, she recommends reserving a seat, packing a rucksack instead of a large suitcase and booking a night train for city trips with a shorter stay.